Aron Kiviharju provides an interesting draft option for the San Jose Sharks

2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round 2-7
2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft - Round 2-7 / Bruce Bennett/GettyImages

While we've all celebrated the San Jose Sharks winning the first overall pick ahead of the 2024 NHL entry draft, they also hold the 14th as part of the Erik Karlsson trade since the Pittsburgh Penguins pick wasn't in the top 10. It gives the Sharks a couple of decisions regarding the organization's future because the 14th overall pick is more complex than Celebrini is for the first overall pick. Do the Sharks go by best player, or do they look by organizational need in the pipeline? 

There will also be the conversation about trading down or trading up that will arise at the draft, so I want to use this as an introduction into a quick new series between now and the draft that looks at what might happen with the Sharks' other pick. There's a lot of talent in the pipeline for this draft class, and I wanted to start with Finnish defenseman Aron Kiviharju. 

Once the projected first-overall pick of this class, Kiviharju's stock has dropped a lot. He's projected to go somewhere between the 20th and the 35th overall; the 14th would probably be a reach for the Sharks on this player, but trading down would make Kiviharju a viable option moving forward. He's a player that will have a lot of admirers; hoping he drops into the later first round or maybe even the beginning of round two. 

So, what can be said about Kivi himself? As a defenseman, he's a powerful skater for someone who is just 5'10, and his offensive potential is second to none; while the defensive side of his game could use some polishing, the overall potential being incredible, there's a lot to like about the Finnish blueliner. However, there are some reasons for concern regarding Kiviharju as well. 

Playing in just 20 games this season at his club and at international tournaments for Finland, experts are worried about his development. This is the year players are supposed to stand out and explode. Aron has done the opposite. He's become an afterthought, and it's tanked his stock. This conundrum of a player with such a high ceiling losing the experts' belief spells an excellent chance for someone to snap him up as someone who drops during the draft. 

San Jose will have issues on the back end moving forward. This player could make the blue line much brighter. He's got immense talent, and there is no denying that he could be a star in this league for a long time. But the Sharks need to know he will live up to that once sky-high potential. He could become the next Norris winner for an organization that has had multiple. He could also fall off the face of the earth. That's the puzzle with Kiviharju.